Published May 18, 2018Vancouver-based artist Lan Tung is the lynchpin between the two groups that make up "The Giant Project." Proliferasian are a seven-piece avant-jazz ensemble that features her traditional Erhu (Chinese violin) as an interesting counterpoint to a mostly Western array of instruments. Through friend and ensemble conductor Chih-Sheng Chen, Tung welcomes the five-piece Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra to create a large and, at times, unpredictable combination of sounds.
The performance was split between Tung's compositions for the large ensemble, who have been playing together occasionally since 2014, and a few improvisations featuring smaller clusters of the musicians.
The former were dynamic and surprising, combining a root of Eastern storytelling with a mutable structure of Western musical impulse. Played with speed and precision, it was especially impressive to hear the Chinese stringed instruments unlock and swing within the jazz groove.
The improvisations, though eventually reaching places of connection and communication, were so different in energy and presentation that they somewhat derailed the prevailing energy of the concert. Still it was an engrossing cultural experiment that should continue to yield new fruit as Tung builds a repertoire for the ensemble.